Samsung finally unveiled the Samsung Galaxy SIII in their Unpacked event at London’s Earl’s Court last night. So for those of you missed the launch, here’s an overview of what the new Galaxy offers.
It only measures 8.6mm thick and weighs only 133 grams. It has a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED (1280×720) Pentile (no Plus) display, Exynos 4 Quad processor @ 1.4Ghz for HSPA version, and 1GB of RAM. An 8MP autofocus rear camera with flash, Zero Lag Shutter and BSI Image sensor while the front camera is 1.9 MP HD with flash and also features the Zero Lag Shutter. Offers full HD 1080p Recording and Playback for videos, comes in 16GB/32GB/64GB plus a microSD expansion, 2,100mAh battery, GPS with GLONASS, 802.11n Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4, 21Mbps HSPA, LTE supported, runs on Android ICS, and accommodates micro SIM.
S Voice – this is the Siri-like feature of the device. But the difference is, to activate it, even if your phone is locked, all you have to do is speak to the phone. You can even customize the trigger greeting so it’s literally hands free. You can also use your voice to tell the Galaxy SIII to do other stuff like turn off the alarm, reject or answer a call, or tell the camera to take a photo. It listens to what you’re saying and does what you tell it to do.
Direct Call – this feature lets you directly call the person you want to talk to. When you’re typing a message and you suddenly realize it would be easier to just talk to the person, you don’t have to exit the message to make a call, just place the phone on your ear and it automatically calls the person you’re composing a message to, without pressing any buttons.
Social Tag – this feature automatically tags the people you know to their social network account. So if you look at the photos in your album, it tells you what your friends or family are up to as it gives you feeds from their social account. Yeah, that’s a bit creepy, kind of like the perfect tool for stalkers.
Smart Stay – this feature utilizes the eye tracking technology. With the use of the front camera, the phone knows whether you are looking at it, so it knows to keep the screen alive. So the phone doesn’t go on standby or lock when you’re reading something or looking at a photo for a long time. But, it also sleeps when you sleep, saving your battery juice.
S Beam – this feature utilizes NFC technology and WiFi Direct which allows for very fast sharing of files. All you have to do is select the file you want to share, like a photo or video, then place another Galaxy SIII on the back of it, so the two devices are back-to-back with each other and voila! The file is transferred.
AllShare Play – using WiFi Direct and DLNA, you can share the content of your device to a tablet, computer, laptop or any other connected device.
Buddy Photo Share – it recognizes the faces on your photos and with one touch, you can share the photo immediately to your friends on the photo as the phone sends it to your friends.
AllShare Cast – this allows you to stream a video or game on to a big screen so everyone can see it. And the great thing about this is that if you use this for gaming, your phone becomes the game controller.
Pop up play – when you’re watching a video and you want to send a message or you received a message, you don’t have to stop the video from playing, you just resize the video and drag it to the part of the screen that won’t interfere with your typing. Then when you’re done texting, just tap on the video to make it larger again.
Best photo – the front and rear cameras feature Zero Lag shutter so when you click on it, it takes a photo immediately. Plus, it takes a burst of eight photos and recommends the best among the eight photos so you will never be caught with your eyes closed.
At the Samsung event last night, they announced that the Galaxy SIII will be commercially available on May 29 in Europe, then Asia, and will be available in the US by June. The price hasn’t been announced yet but it is expected to cost somewhere between $199-$299 with a two-year contract or about $700 without a contract.
Now that we’ve tackled the specifications and features of the Samsung Galaxy SIII, let’s look at what critics have to say about the device.
Nomura Securities via the Wall Street Journal
Yes, it’s much improved from the Galaxy S II. Yet it’s not amazing enough to meet the market’s expectations; nor did it come with substantial differentiating factors. Our first impression was that it is ‘Great, but not a big surprise.’
GOOD: In our view, 10% of smartphone usage is for voice, while 90% is for viewing; hence, we believe large screens will be a continuing trend in the smartphone industry. (the Galaxy S III has a 4.8 inch screen, compared with the iPhone 4S’ 3.5-inch screen)
BAD: Although the new phone comes with several new features, few of them can be regarded as key differentiating factors, or revolutionary, in our view.
Yes, it seems like the trend in smartphone design is “larger screen = better”. This isn’t really bad, since you don’t have worry about your fingers getting in the way of typing. But as awesome as the features of the S3 are, consumers will never be truly satisfied. Plus, even if the Apple iPhone 5 is still a rumor, everyone’s already comparing it to the Galaxy SIII.
“While the Galaxy S3 will be highly desirable for enthusiastic and advanced users, Samsung will have to build on the already popular Galaxy brand and push it hard to various distribution channels before the iPhone 5 is launched,” said Malik Saadi, an industry analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.
Though the iPhone 5 is still a rumor, Samsung can’t be complacent–they must push the Galaxy SIII and take advantage of the head start. They should market this phone like crazy in order to sell them before the mythical iPhone 5 gets released.
“Samsung must make the most of a 4-5 month window of opportunity with the Galaxy SIII before Apple changes the game once more with its next generation iPhone,” said Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight.